ESPN recently aired a 10-episode Michael Jordan hagiography titled “The Last Dance.” It was an extraordinary round of Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 90s. It was very entertaining, revealing, mesmerizing at times. Peek from behind the curtain. Many warts appear, nothing more dramatic and disturbing than Jordan.
The best basketball players who have ever lived appear as vain, cruel, obsessive, annoying, unkind, unforgiving, arrogant, hostile, bully, jerk, one-dimensional jerk. Jordan is as soft and gentle as a cobra. He must approve the film to be shown and his portrayal clearly does not disturb him as it does for many others.
Which leads to clear questions that haven’t been asked.
Do any of us act differently? If we have such nimble talent, if we are surrounded by such worship, if we have such an impulse – almost feels like an obligation – to revive a franchise that is almost dead, can we play a humble and respectful warrior?
We love our sports icons to be obedient, cooperative, friendly, someone who plays well with others and is loved as a complete human being and not just as someone who is just awesome to hold a stick or ball. Nobody wants to root for a jerk.
This column is not to free Jordan from explaining it. How does it feel to be Michael Jordan? How does it feel to walk on his shoes?
I asked that question on one of his last trips to Oakland to play the Warriors. Sitting in front of his locker at the Oakland Coliseum, Jordan stopped, sighing.
“There is a one-lane road taken by the players after training from the stadium,” Jordan said. “This is one direction. Give us a chance to avoid the crowd. One day when I was leaving, a woman lay on the road, her body blocking my path.
“I got out of the car and asked if he could move. He said he wouldn’t. I said he had to, otherwise I would crash into him and he might die. He said, ‘I know. It is okay. I want to have your tire trail on my body. “
At that moment Jordan stopped, staring at me as if he had just spoken to someone who described him the nutritional benefits of eating a box of nails. He said he called security. They took him away for mental evaluation.
The talent that is too large to be seen can be trusted to match the spotlight that must be seen to be believed. In 1984 Jordan, then a beginner, received a standing ovation from Knicks fans at Madison Square Garden. Before he ever took pictures. By just walking on the field for the first time. As a beginner, I repeat.
Jordan was never just a man who tried to fit in. He is The Guy where his teammates have to find the flow and go with it, does it mean he is screaming to keep, to be quiet, to be a man. There is no wiggle room with him. His obsession should be your obsession. Otherwise, don’t let the door hit you in the booty when you leave.